Video: Illegal dumping spoils Algerian tourist site

Screenshot from a video showing a garbage collector emptying a dumpster into the Kheratta gorges.
 
This video, shot in the province of Béjaïa, shows sanitation workers emptying dumpsters in the Kherrata gorges, one of northern Algeria’s most beautiful tourist sites. According to our Observer, this has been going on for several years now.
 
Activists from the “Algerian Special Envoys” network posted this video online. The dump truck belongs to sanitation workers employed by the Taskriout municipality.
 
 
 
Two years ago, the “Algerian Special Envoys” had already shared several similar photos of illegal dumping, perpetrated by local officials in a nearby segment of the Kherrata gorges.
 

Contributors

“Béjaïa only has one real dump, and it’s not even operational”

Karim Khima, who works for the conservation organisation ARDH, advocates for putting an end to illegal dumping in Béjaïa .
  
As these various videos show, illegal dumping has been going on in Kherrata for several years. This is very serious because it is an important natural site, namely for the Barbary macaque monkeys, an endemic species that is on the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this area is not the only one facing this kind of ecological threat. Illegal dumping takes place nearly everywhere in the Béjaïa province, and the largest illegal dump is actually in Boulimat, in the middle of Gouraya national park!
 
The Kherrata gorges are overrun by trash.
 
The province does not have any kind of industrial landfill site that could process this kind of waste. The problem is that there are not many areas where such a landfill could be set up. And when mayors suggest locating public dumps near their village, the residents protest because they want to protect their homes from disgusting odours and disease. The towns here always end up giving in to public pressure and so they dump their waste out in nature. If this continues, the entire region will soon become one big open-air dump.
 
A landfill was created in 2009-2010 in the Sidi Bouderhem region, about 30 kilometres from the town of Béjaïa, but it is not yet operational. To this day, only about 25% of the road that is supposed to lead up to the centre has been built. The situation is catastrophic and the public authorities are lagging behind.
 
The Boulimat dump is located in the middle of a national park.
 
Unfortunately, there is a lack of interest in environmental issues here. When, for instance, the Béjaïa environmental agency receives complaints about a violation, the reports that it prepares and submits to law enforcement never lead to any action being taken.
 
One of the roles of both the police is to protect against environmental violations. However, law enforcement agencies never do anything about this kind of offence. For this reason, our organisation has been advocating for years now for the creation of a police unit focusing solely on the environment. We are also pushing policies that would support the creation of a recycling industry, because landfills are not a long-term solution.
 
 
Illegal dumps are a huge problem in Algeria. There are over 1,300 in the northern region of Kabylie alone. In June 2013, the environment minister, Amara Benyounès, announced that 5,500 of Algeria’s 7,500 illegal dumps would be cleaned up.
 
FRANCE 24 tried to contact the officials in charge of environmental issues in Béjaïa, but have not yet received any response. We will publish their reply as soon as we receive it.

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